We are pleased to announce the July 2024 Slush Pile Challenge set by Callen Martin of Bell Lomax Moreton.


Callen Martin 

Callen Martin joined Bell Lomax Moreton in April 2023 to assist Lauren Gardner across her list. He worked previously at another literary agency as an Agency Assistant & Partnerships Manager and, in the freelance space, as a manuscript assessor, sensitivity reader and writing competition judge. Now, as of 2024, he is actively building his own list and covering Lauren Gardner's maternity leave with the full support of the wider team.

Callen grew up in foster care and graduated Bath Spa University’s MA in Writing for Young People in 2019 becoming the first care-experienced person in the history of East Sussex to study at Postgraduate level. As a queer, working class man, Callen is passionate about representation in publishing; especially that of the care system.

Areas of Interest

Callen’s first bookish love will always be Children’s, (for readers aged 7+), YA and New Adult / Crossover fiction, across all genres, in all formats. In these areas he is swept away by diverse, heroic, fun and captivating titles that balance their strong characterisation and emotional depth against plots that he, and young readers, just have to keep turning the pages of. In children's fiction he's drawn to stories that will leave kids desperate to read one more chapter before bedtime, begging their parents / guardians / carers to let them do just that.

“Though it’s definitely a book’s unique premise and hook that intrigues me, it’s the voice of the characters and their emotional depth – their heart – that I fall in love with. That's what I stick around for.”

Passionate about the editorial side of agenting, Callen is looking for potential not polish. He is very happy to be surprised by the books submitted to him. For more guidance on his taste and a non-exclusive list of his current areas of interest please see the website.

“Please can I have the first full chapter of a book aimed at readers aged 8+, (from Middle Grade upwards to YA/NA)? I know that some authors will have Prologues but if I could have their official Chapter One that would be really exciting to read.”

Callen will pick a winner. He will arrange to have a 30-minute meeting with the winner. It will be in person, Zoom or a phone call.


You need to be an un-agented, current SCBWI member and resident in either the UK or Europe.

If you win a challenge, you can enter any other Slush Pile Challenges but not with the same manuscript.
To join SCBWI and take advantage of the many opportunities to raise your profile, market your work, meet fellow writers, artists and the gatekeepers to publication, while being supported in the development and pursuit of your craft, visit

1 Check that you are a paid-up member of SCBWI before submitting your entry by going to Any entries received where member's details cannot be found on SCBWI records will not be included as a valid entry.

2 Send in your entry as a single Word Document to Submissions to the Slush Pile Challenge should not be sent direct to the agent/editor/judge.

3 The document should only contain YOUR FIRST CHAPTER the judge has requested. Do not include your name, address or email address in your word document or the document name. The word document should be named in the following format – 'your title' July 2024 Slush Pile.doc

4 Please do not insert a header or footer in your submission.

5 In the email please write your full name as it appears in SCBWI membership records and your email address. Also include the title of your work.

6 Shortly after you have submitted your entry you will receive an email from the competitions email address stating, 'Your entry has been received.' If you do not receive this message please send an email to However, we cannot put entries through after the closing date unless your entry is received on or before the closing date.

7 Only the first entry will be considered. Please do not send revisions, multiple entries or multiple attachments.

8 Any entries received after the closing date will automatically be disqualified.

As soon as the competition is closed, it is necessary to generate a random selection using a computer program. All valid and verified entries received will be included irrespective of whether the entry was received on the date of the launch of the competition or on the closing date or whether the entrant has previously had their submissions seen by an agent/editor/judge. This has to be done to ensure that there is no bias or pre-judging from SCBWI BI/SCBWI BI Words & Pictures editorial team when sending the entries for judging. 

The terms of the competition are that the judge agrees to read a minimum of fifteen entries from the number of submissions. In many cases the agent/editor/ judge requests to read more. When an agent/editor/judge requests to read fifteen or another proportion of the total entries, those chosen as the first ones to be read by the computer will be sent to him/her. Sometimes the judge may request a further selection of valid and verified entries before making their decision. When this occurs, to avoid bias, the next group of entries from the initial computer generated random selection will be sent to the agent/editor/judge. There are times when the judge requests to read all the entries and these are then forwarded to him/her.

The judge will pick a winner and also tell us why. Sometimes he/she may quote a few sentences or phrases from the winner's submission in the blog announcing the winner.

The winner will be put in touch with the judge so they can arrange the 30-minute discussion by Zoom or on the phone.

Good Luck Everyone!

The Words & Pictures team are aware that our members write for different ages and genres. With this in mind we endeavour to provide at least one Slush Pile Challenge a year that our un-agented members feel able to enter.

*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo


Elaine Cline has been a SCBWI member for over eight years and loves to write picture books, middle-grade and teen books. She lives by the sea and has one dog.

Elaine is a member of the Words & Pictures editorial team, managing The Slush Pile Challenge. Her X (twitter) handle is @elaineccline


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures.
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Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter or
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